Atlanta's "Little Ethiopia" neighborhood (off I-85 at the intersection of Briarcliff and Clairmont) is home to six Ethiopian restaurants plus an Ethiopian grocery shop. The shining star among the options is Desta Ethiopian Kitchen, which counts even Atlanta's Iron Chef America winner Chef Kevin Rathbun among its fans.
Ethiopian dining is a “hands-on” experience since the meal is traditionally consumed not with forks but with pinched pieces of injera, a spongy sour flatbread made of teff flour.
Desta co-owners Ashenafi Nega and Titi Demisse modernize classic recipes by toning down spice levels (that can be tailored to order) and ramping up the freshness and quality of ingredients. Fish is delivered daily and vegetables are sourced locally while spices are imported from “back home,” says Nega, including cardamom and berbere, a blend of dried ground chilies, garlic, ginger, basil, pepper and the fenugreek herb.
The best-selling vegetable platter presents eight delicious concoctions. Kitfo (beef tartar), fish tibs (sautéed marinated tilapia), and dulet (ground beef, liver and trip sautéed in house spices) are also popular. Desta means joy or happiness in the Amharic language, which is how this place makes diners feel.
Bottom Line: Atlanta's best Ethiopian dining option.